A mesmerizing story of three generations of a twentieth-century Italian family.
Casa Rossaa farmhouse in Puglia owned by the Strada familyis being sold. And as she packs up the house, Alina Strada pieces together the history of her family's past, and of the lives of three extraordinary Strada women.
Grandmother Renée, a beautiful Tunisian, is wife, muse, and model for Alina's painter grandfather, but she leaves him and flees to Nazi Germany. Alina's mother, Alba, marries a melancholic screenwriter and lives la dolce vita in 1950s Rome until her husband's mysterious death. Isabella, Alina's sister and once her best friend, finds herself drawn to a dangerous ideology in the 1970s; the sisters' love for one another soon shifts to a betrayal of which they can never speak. As these individual lives unfold, so does the larger onethe story of a family whose secrets collide with history.
From the duplicity of Italy's role in the thirties to the dark years of terrorism in our own times, and moving from Rome and Southern Italy to New England and New York City, Casa Rossa is a brilliant weave of lives and memories: an enthralling novel.
When we were small, my sister Isabella and I used to wonder whether Alba had murdered our father.
Murdered him, and then made up the suicide story.
We'd be in the kitchen, hunting for food, two skinny girls, ten and twelve. Murdered. We'd let that possibility hang in the air, to see if anything crashed or shattered, but nothing ever moved. The house remained perfectly still.
"Who knows, anyway," we'd say, to finish it off. We didn't really want to know. If she had done it, eventually they would come and lock her up.
It was bad enough, what had happened already. Dad vanishing, like a card in a trick.
We'd hear the keys in the door. She'd come in smiling, wearing her green dress and sandals, her arms full of groceries.
There she was: Alba. Our mother. The Murderer.
"Want a prosciutto sandwich, darlings?"
When we were that small, things shifted proportions all the time: the really dangerous stuff shrunk, curled up in a ball so ...
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